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Stem cell treatment outperforms mitoxantrone in reducing new lesions


In a phase II study, scientists found that intense immunosuppression followed by autologous hematopoietic stem cells transplantation (AHSCT) is significantly superior to mitoxantrone (MTX) in reducing MRI activity in severe cases of MS.

Researchers, led by Giovanni L. Mancardi, M.D., of the University of Genoa, wanted to assess the effect of intense immunosuppression followed by AHSCT vs in multiple sclerosis.

The study consisted of 21 patients, 17 had postbaseline evaluable MRI scans, in a phase II, randomized trial that included patients with secondary progressive or relapsing-remitting MS, with a documented increase in the last year on the Expanded Disability Status Scale, in spite of conventional therapy, and presence of one or more gadolinium-enhancing (Gd+) areas. Patients were randomized to receive intense immunosuppression followed by AHSCT or MTX 20 mg every month for 6 months. What they found was that AHSCT reduced by 79 percent the number of new T2 lesions as compared to MTX. It also reduced Gd+ lesions as well as the annualized relapse rate.

While no difference was found in the progression of disability, the authors note that the results strongly support further phase III studies. The findings were published in the journal Neurology.

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